Here I was in Chicago, Illinois. As I pass the big green bushes, I sense the mystery here in Chicago. Passing the pillow-soft clouds above as we arrive in front of a big red house.  My family and I moved from California to Chicago because my parents were offered real estate agent jobs. And I had my own intentions of wanting to be in a new neighborhood, I wanted to have a fresh start and not look back on my haunting past… It was only Me, my sister Layla, my mom Janet, and my dad Martin. So, I considered us being a small family.  I rushed upstairs to unpack my belongings. Out of all the 4 rooms of course I picked the biggest one… 

“I wanted that room!” Layla said. This is Layla, my sister and she is 11 years old, she is a spoiled brat. Of course, being the youngest was a piece of cake. No, I picked the room first. “I am telling mommy!” she said. So of course I end up getting a different room, even though I picked first. I started unpacking my belongings, and suddenly I found a dark blue box that I had in my bag. I opened it up and there I saw my journal. I had totally forgotten about this journal,  all my secrets were in there… I hurried up and put it back in the box… I had to keep it hidden…

After I finished unpacking, I heard gossiping downstairs. It was my parents. My parents were gossiping about a shooting… I am a nosey girl, so I went to the table and asked my parents “who got shot?”

“A seven-year-old girl named Jaslyn Adams was shot at 4:18 pm today while in Mcdonald’s drive-thru with her father,” Mommy said. “Oh my gosh, where did this happen?” I said. “It happened in Chicago, it was around  the corner.” “We just moved here and there is already violence. “Sorry baby, I  didn’t know there  would still be violence here.” “It’s okay,” I say, I am just going to head back up to my room. “Okay,” Daddy says.

I walk upstairs with so much despair in my light brown eyes. So many questions run through my head. “How could they do this to a little girl?” “What made them do this?” “Why is this happening in my neighborhood?” Not that I wanted it to happen anywhere else… I go into my room, get my journal, and lay on my bed. I go to a blank page and start writing. I started writing about the violence that is already happening in my neighborhood and I just MOVED HERE! I write how it was literally the same day, not days, or weeks but the same day. It was horrible but I hope it gets better. I ended up falling asleep… When I woke up it was around 6:00 pm. 

My sister came in, “TURN ON THE NEWS!” Layla yells, “Okay, calm down.” I replied. My dad brought her old TV from our old house in California to the new house. It was a little old but we made use of it. I turn the TV on and ABC news is already on. 

“A young lady was found shot dead in her home around 5:45 pm today in Chicago.” The news reporter said. It was like a punch in the face. I was living a nightmare. Once again I had to hear about the death of someone in my new neighborhood and it was my first day. This wasn’t normal, and I wasn’t used to this…I went from thinking I was going to move to Chicago to live a normal life and pursue my skills of writing and softball. 

“This is upsetting that we are having shootings back to back on a day like this,” Layla said.  “I know sister, I understand,” I said. Layla lowered her head as she walked back to her room. I was starting  Brooking high school tomorrow. High school at its fullest. My sister was beginning 6th grade at Lubert St. Elementary School and she would be graduating this year.

I couldn’t think of the sadness of the shooting anymore, so I tried to think about positive things… Like about how I would be meeting new people tomorrow and trying out for the softball team. I know it might be early to start school the next day after I just moved into my house But we were already rolled into our schools in Chicago because my mom wanted to make sure we were set for a good school before we moved to Chicago. I was so excited about school that I even planned my outfit out early, it’s not usual for me to pick out my outfit earlier. I usually wear the same typical dark clothing every day. I went into my drawer and put a black t-shirt and black pants on my pink king-size bed. We moved most of our furniture from our old house here. The furniture was still new, so we definitely weren’t putting it to waste. Pink is my favorite color. I like boyish clothes but I have a girl’s favorite color. I am different. Or society will put it as I don’t have a gender or I am weird. I see my chucks and put them in my outfit. As I put my clothes to the side I smell cheesy lasagna. The smell lingers, so I only have one option which is to go downstairs… I walk down the stairs. The combination of my furry fluffy socks and the carpet on the stairs makes me feel like I am a sleeping beauty. As I walk down I see my sister and my parents at the table. 

“We were about to call you down to eat,” Mommy said. “Well, looks like there is no need for that, I discovered my own way to the food”

 “Girl bye, come over here and sit down so we can dig in.” Mommy giggled. First, we say our grace.

 “Father God, we thank you for this food we are about to receive, we pray that it nurtures our bodies. In your name, we pray, O Lord. Amen.”

“Amen.” We all say. We all dig in our food. We eat and barely say anything. You know the food is good when nobody is talking at the table but I wonder was there another reason nobody was talking. After dinner, I help my mom clean up the kitchen.

We barely say a word to each other. I think it is mostly because of the violence that happened in our neighborhood today. I don’t say anything because I don’t want to be reminded of it. I head up to my room and brush my teeth, wash my face, and get in the shower.

I put on my pink poke dot PJs. I pray for the protection of my neighborhood before I put my long dark brown hair in a bun. “ahhhh-hhaaaaaa.”, yes, I am definitely tired.  I lay my head on the soft white pillow and close my eyes.

I woke up at 8:00… OH MY GOSH!  I am going to be late. I have to be at school at 8:30. I forgot to set my alarm clock. I am guessing my parents left out for work and dropped my sister off at school. I guess they were too busy and they forgot to wake me up… I ran to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. I hurried and put my black t-shirt, black pants, and chucks on next to my bed. I put my journal, money, and ID In my purse and ran out the door. I got on the subway, I listened to the usual Marvin Gaye-Sexual Healing. The humming to the ears was satisfying. I arrived at 62nd street and got off the subway. I walked two blocks up and there was Brooking High School. People walked in front of me. It was a very tall building, I’m guessing it was because of what looked like 6 floors. It seemed as though there were mostly Latin kids. I can not believe my mom signed me up for a Latin school, I should have known what I was getting myself into when I didn’t know anything about the school and MY MOM picked it. As I was walking into the tall building, a group of girls came behind me. I looked back and the girl standing in the middle said 

“You new here?” She had curly, long, black, and dark hair. Her eyes were hazel. If I was, to be honest, she was very pretty. I was assuming she was a popular girl considering her army group behind her. She had a dark pink Nike set on with pink jordans. She dressed nicely and she looked pretty. 

“Yes I am new, I just transferred here because I just moved here,” I said. “Oh, so you’re extremely new huh, lol? She said as she giggled. “So what is your name and what grade are you in?” “My name is Myla and I am in 10th grade.” “Oh, okay. Well just so we’re clear my name is Alysia  I run this school, so don’t think you’re going to come up here changing anything” She stated. “By the way, your whole outfit is trash. You look like a boy.” she said.

 “I wasn’t going to change anything, I am just trying to get an education,” I mumbled. “Good, had to make sure we were on the same page.” I left the entrance and went to class. 

My first class was Geometry. I had to find out we had the same schedule. Being in the same room as she was like fire in the room. She stared at me the whole time with evilness in her hazel eyes. After class was over, I finished the day with the girl staring at me… As I went to leave, somebody tripped me… I looked up and it was a giraffe standing over me…  It was the tall, pretty girl that confronted me earlier this morning. 

“Watch where you are going.”Shouted Alysia.

“I wasn’t in your way” I mumbled.

“Yes, you were! You needed a trip anyway so that you can finally recognize you need some new clothes. Now go clean up ol’ girl.” She giggled. 

I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore, I ran away as I cried terribly… I got on the subway. All I could think about was going home to my depressing bed. Once I got off the subway I ran into the house, ran upstairs and closed the door behind me. It wasn’t like my mom and dad were here to comfort me, they were too busy at work. I cried depressingly. It wasn’t like my sister would understand, she’s only 11 years old. Nobody would understand. I started having a flashback of me in California, I was on the top of my rooftop getting ready to jump off. I got bullied so badly at my old school Waller that I was at the point I was going to commit suicide. I don’t understand,  I thought moving to Chicago would be a fresh start for me and now it’s happening all over again. I cried, even more, this time I started screaming. “WHYYYYYYYYYY”. “WHAT ISS WRONGG WITH ME?.”

It was a waterfall running down my face. My sister heard my endless screams and rushed into my room.  I tried to hurry up and wipe my tears. 

“Are you okay sister?” Layla said. 

“Yes I am okay, and if I weren’t you wouldn’t understand.” “I will try to understand, I am your sister, I am here for you. I know there may be some things I wouldn’t understand but I want to help” she said as she lowered her eyes.

“Thank you for being here for me, I really appreciate it. I want to be alone right now though. Love you, Layla.” “Okay, I understand you want to be alone right now but if you ever want to talk about anything let me know.” She whispered as she walked out the door.

I couldn’t process myself being in a state of depression again. As the thoughts kept coming through, I hurried and got my journal from my blue mystery box. It began with 

“Here I was again, crying, hurt, being bullied. I only could wonder why am I going through this? Is it me? Is there something wrong with me? Was new beginnings even an option? I kept coming to dead ends. I wanted to go to school, make new friends, play softball, and have new experiences. But why was this happening ALL OVER AGAIN? And to top it off there is violence here in Chicago. I don’t have anyone to talk to, so holding in my emotions is the only option for me.”

A buzz from my phone stopped me from writing. 

A 9-year-old girl was shot in the head in Chicago, Illinois while with her mother. The family will like this to be private right now.” A news reporter said.

“This is getting out of hand, another shooting?” I said. “I cried again, “nooooooooo, this can’t be happening.” I keep having to hear about someone getting killed every single day… I paused for a second and thought about everything around me, what was happening to me. I was getting bullied, violence happening in my neighborhood, holding my emotions in me, before I could think anything else, I fell asleep. 

The depression only got worse over the weeks, the group of girls started bullying me every day. Imagine having to deal with someone hurting you every day of the week. They started saying worse things like “Why do you still live?”, “There wouldn’t be any difference in this world if you weren’t here.” “Leave this school.”  I had found out she was on the softball team so I couldn’t even play my favorite sport. She was also in the writing activity, so I couldn’t do what I wanted. The pranks were worse, I couldn’t use the bathroom because I would stay in there until the next class. So I had to wait until I got home. The violence got worse, it was killing every single day, I woke up every day and somebody else was getting killed or shot. The worst part is that I still was holding in my emotions… My parents were also working so by the time they came home I would already be asleep. My sister was trying to support me and that counted but I couldn’t tell her what was being done to me, she was only 11 years old. She wouldn’t understand me…

13 weeks later…. After school, I went to see if my sister was in her room. I peeked in and she was watching Peppa Pig. The reason I went to see if she was in her room was devastating… I wanted to say one last goodbye before I finally ended my worthless life… Maybe those girls were right. I didn’t deserve to live, what was my purpose for living… I cried so hard as I went into my room… I put down my belongings and ran downstairs to grab a sharp knife. Here I was all over again…The big question was, was  I really going to end my life? I rushed up the stairs as my blood boiled. I looked outside one last time before I took the sharp kitchen knife and put it 1 inch from my screaming neck. 

A miracle happened… My sister walked into the room to check on me…

“Hey, I came in here to check on you, are you okay?” Layla said. I rushed and tucked the knife under my bed. 

“Yes, I am okay, thank you so much Layla for checking on me!” It was at that very moment I knew I couldn’t kill myself because I had people who actually care about me, if I wanted to help my sister’s future, I had to stop the bullying that was happening and I had to start at my school.

“Don’t ever thank me for checking on you. I want to help you, sister. Whatever you are going through, there will be a better outcome, you have to take it step by step. Can you promise you will never give up on yourself?” Layla said. Wow, my sister was very intelligent. Maybe I was too up my ass to notice that.

“I promise I won’t,” I whispered.

“Okay, you better not.” She giggled. She hugged me “I love you,” she said. “I love you more,” I said. 

She left my room. 

This is the day I changed my life. I knew no matter what tomorrow had to be the day I finally faced my fears of my bully. It was around 7:30 pm. I started planning how I was going to confront her tomorrow. Not only was I planning to stop the bullying at my school but I wanted to start an organization to help other people at schools that were getting bullied. I knew that this was getting out of hand and that something had to be done. I planned to go up to her and confront her about bullying, that what she is doing is hurting people and that I would be the one to stop her no matter what the cost would be. I knew that  I was going to break a leg. Having the support from my sister really pushed me. I spent the next 3 hours planning for the big day tomorrow and how it was going to go…

 The clock screamed in my ear and woke me up, it was a big day. I felt butterflies in my stomach. I was afraid but I knew it had to get done. I quickly got dressed and headed out the door, I was so concrete on getting my job done that I didn’t eat. I got on the subway and arrived at  Brooking High School exactly at 8:30 on the dot. I walked into the school confidently and soon as I walked in I saw the pretty girl there with her friends. To be honest I was afraid at first but then I remembered my little sister. Before I could think of anything else that would try to stop me I went up to her and confronted her in front of everybody. 

“Why are you in my face, ugly?” Alyisa laughed.

“Why am I in your face, lol? The question you should be asking is why I didn’t come to your face. I want everyone to know how rude and mean you are. How you’ve been bullying me for months now, since the beginning of the school year, didn’t even know me but wanted to pick on me because of what I wear. Do you think it’s cool to bully? Well, it’s not. You have been going around here bullying people and thinking you are so cool, to be honest, you’re not cool. I am done letting you bully and I am here to put a stop to it!” I shouted.

Everybody was in shock, literally, the whole school was there…

“Girl, you think you’re really going to come up in this school and take over with your niceness. Well, flash news you’re not.” She said. 

“YES, I AM!” I shouted. Everybody started joining me and we were all a big group. Even the girls that were with her came on my side. She didn’t know what to say anymore, she was startled, she didn’t know I could make a difference. Eventually, before anything else happened the principal came out and took her away. He didn’t know she was bullied for so long and neither did her mom. I finally beat the bully at my school. I was so excited to tell my sister about the news. I finally was making a change for myself and for my community. My word encourages people to stand against the bully. We as a group defeated the bully. This truly shows teamwork makes the dream work. I immediately ran and got on the subway and ran into the house with my sister. “I DID IT!” I shouted.

“I am so proud of you! Told you to never give up on yourself! You made a difference! I love you so much, sister!” She said joyfully. I hugged her. “I love you too, sister! I am making a difference for your future!” I said. 

“Thank you so much sister, this is the start of something great!” She said. I ran upstairs to start writing ideas down for my organization and what day I was going to launch it. I was so excited.. 

My organization launched on June 12th, 2020. And that was the same day my sister Layla graduated from Lubert St. Elementary school. We had a big celebration at my house! For Layla and for my organization but the main focus was Layla, I was so happy for her! Her hard work paid off.  

Things got better over time, I finally found the guts to tell my parents how I felt about the neighborhood and they actually listened and we moved to a nicer part of Chicago, I still went to Brooking High School. I made various friends and became very popular. My organization was called Bullying Stops Now and it became very successful. People from all over Chicago came and it was very beneficial and I spread a lot of awareness about bullying. I and my family spent the summers connecting more and doing family activities. I also played on the Softball team and advanced my skills. And the most important thing is that I was back going out in nature, meditating, and connecting with God.

If you know anyone who may be dealing with mental health problems or anyone who has thoughts about suicide call the national hotline 800-273-8255.

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March 23, 2023 3:13 am

Hello, this was a wonderful story! The choice of location was different, you never really see people choose places like Chicago for stories like this. They seem to believe that living in cities like those means that you don’t have any type of issues regarding depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health issues. I really loved it!

March 30, 2022 2:02 pm

Powerful story! Keep writing!

March 10, 2022 7:41 pm

Love the story and the characters Great Job

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